La religieuse (The Nun) (1971)
La religieuse (The Nun) Photos
as Suzanne Simonin
as Mme. de Chelles
as Mme. de Moni
as Sister St. Christine
as Dom Morel
as Sister St. Therese
as Sister St. Cecile
as Mme. Simonin
as Father Lemoine
Critic Reviews for La religieuse (The Nun)
A great film that remains one of the cornerstones of the French New Wave.
The French censors banned the film for over a year, thus generating both notoriety and goodwill, neither justified.
A beautiful, calm, austere movie that somehow manages to be remarkably faithful to the original, yet quite different in tone.
A riveting religious drama set in 18th-century France which casts French New Wave favorite Karina as a young nun forced into the convent for financial reasons.
A garish potboiler first and a harsh critique of religious institutions last.
Audience Reviews for La religieuse (The Nun)
The Nun might be just another very good, possibly excellent and heartbreaking piece of "religion is rotten and the people in it control people in terrible and soul-crushing ways" movie-making akin to Carl Dreyer if not for its last third or maybe second half (it's something of that length). For a good while Jacques Rivette's film from the book by Denis Diderot is about Suzanne (Anna Karina), a young woman who is passed along from her parents, one the mother wanting to go to the afterlife "clean" without the burden of her sin which was connected to Suzanne's father not really being her father, to a convent and forced to say she will be celibate and devout and all that jazz. Jazz as in life as a nun, forced to say that she believes wholly in God and will deny herself everything in order to serve him- when he calls or feels like it of course. In this first half or so the film is about as close as one can get outside of Carl Dreyer to it being about the pain inflicted upon an innocent in a world dominated by a) a natural prejudice towards women, in this case to go completely rigidly by the rules - or, b) for that matter, a hell placed upon those who *dont* want to be nuns and just want to experience something else in the world. We see Suzanne subjected to this convent at first run by a helpful and loving Mother Superior Mme de Moni only to die and her replacement be so hard-pressed as to eventually see Suzanne as being possessed by a devil, keeping her away from the other nuns, locked up without food or water, or any legal counsel. This part seems straightforward as does the eventual Priests-find-out-Mme-is-unrelenting-and-transfer-her story progression... but something very fascinating happens, something that makes The Nun from what is already a heart-rending and tasteful story of repression and super 18th century Christian fervor into a great film. The second convent, on first appearance, is total bliss compared to the former one. Suzanne is treated to happy nuns, a happy Mother Superior Simonin, and even some lighthearted revelry like playing games outside, something that would have never happened at the previous convent. But there's also an underlying uneasiness that is confirmed by the Mother Superior being, how should I say, "clingy" to at first Suzanne's story and then Suzanne herself. It's not just enough for Rivette, by way of the book, to show religion being domineering and cruel and at best complacent in the expected sense, but for another look at what should be religious organization run by caring and spiritual people to be also total kooks. It's like Rivette puts down this section of some fun like the slightest of reprieves and then to bring it back under the rug, and it's something really special to see. It's a bleak story not simply because a woman who has no rightful place in a convent of nuns is forced into it and made into another cog in the religious machine, but for the lack of hope conveyed in what good there is, the goodness of people devoted to a life of faith, that is revealed. It's an incredibly precise indictment on organized religion and society that allows how it runs as much as captivating morality drama. The Nun can also be read as a searing feminist statement, but going into this part might make this too long a review. Suffice to say The Nun, a controversial film (at the time) made from a controversial book of its time, conveys what it wants to say in stark locations and even starker performances from the supporting cast. The two actresses playing the significant Mother Superiors in the story deserve credit, yet the main reason to see the picture is for Anna Karina. She makes a sense of purpose in every scene, a performance that is startling for it being so removed from ex-husband Godard's usual self-conscious comedy/dramas and into something that requires her to plunge the depths of whatever she can handle emotionally for the character. It turns out to be the best serious performance of her's I've seen to date outside of maybe Vivre sa vie. Suzanne, thanks to Karina, is so sad a character, so right in her common sense and driven almost mad by this rigid and monstrous Christian dogma that you cant take your eyes off her for a second. It's rare to see a performance this tender and selfless to the dark and light in human being.
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